Fearless #5 Fear of Global Calamity
Do you ever look at the small print? Do you ever pay attention to the warnings while watching a commercial pushing a certain medication? While your staring at a happy couple, hand in hand, walking through the beautiful golden leaves there is that voice in the background warning you of all the side effects that can happen if you take their drug including coughing, wheezing, diarrhea, Lhasa bladder control, going cross eyed, growing hair on your back, your head popping off and that’s just warnings on acne medicines!
It is a scary world.
And how many times of I heard grandparents or maybe even potential parents question whether they want to bring a baby into this present world? We are all more than aware of the difficulty and the anxiety that we are all suffering on this planet right now. Let me name a few in case you’ve been living in a bomb shelter…
- Global warming is going to melt the oceans and either drown us or burn us up
- Powerful madman are developing nuclear weapons that they will not hesitate to use to further their political ideologies
- Political movements in our country that threaten to undo the constitution, freedom, all decent moral law, and protect the privileged few
- Open attacks on anything Christian, a division in the land, a gap between rich and poor, liberal and conservative, black and white that seems unbridgeable.
- Swine flu, German flu, Asian flu,Siamese cat flu, one flew overt he cuckoo’s nest
- The softening of educational standards and moral standards that leaves America behind
- Health Care, bailouts, government’s intervention, higher taxes, recession, depression, no jobs, too many bills,
- Dupont’s moving, GE’s moving, everybody’s moving!
We are in the fifth week of a series called fearless. We are trying to become people of great confidence and boldness when facing the fears that plague our culture and this very city where we live. Today we want to gain some confidence when it comes to the big fears, global fears, “what if things get worse” kind of fear.
We live in a scary world. We live in a scary time. It seems that nothing is stable and everything is shifting. What we used to count on we worry will be gone tomorrow. And we’ll be left in the dust without a job, without income to pay our bills, and maybe without a roof over our head. But in the midst of all of this Jesus tells us that his followers can be brave and fearless because we have a father in heaven.
Let’s read some scripture! These verses are Jesus’ predictions for coming trouble.
Matthew 24:1-14 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings.
The disciples were impressed with the massive stones of the temple and the temple buildings. Some of those stones were 24 feet home. The gold and the silver and the intricate carvings of those buildings were impressive. I’m sure that those buildings probably represented images to those disciples of something that would never go away. They would be there forever and I’m sure they thought that Jesus would make sure they would be there forever!
2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
This did happen as Jesus said! It was witnessed and recorded in 70 AD when the Roman army grew tired of the rebellion of the Jews and sieged the city and decimated it completely. The only evidence of that old city is what we call the Wailing Wall in present day Jerusalem.
Let’s note that those very same buildings that the disciples thought would be permanent and never changing would be completely destroyed within 40 years in some of these very same disciples with live to see it happen.
This may be a warning to us that we are going to see things in our lifetime that we never thought possible. Things that we thought would stand forever will be dismantled and left in the dust.
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
Jesus is about to reveal 4 key crises that would take place before he returns. He begins to prepare his disciples to not only know these things but to be prepared for these four things. And they will not be pretty. And they will not be easy. And it won’t be a time to play church. It will be a time of temptation to turn back. It will be a time where things just seem to get worse and worse.
Let’s look at them…
1. It will be a time of SPIRITUAL CRISIS
4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.
Notice in that verse there will be many deceived and many deceivers.
It seems that church and religion has always been a breeding ground for so called messiahs. They come and go with regularity. They usually use words such as, “God told me, God led me, God spoke to me.” They all seem to have personal one on one sit downs with the almighty in heaven itself. One such deceiver claimed that he and Jesus got into a splashing fight in the river of life!!
Jesus predicted a time of spiritual crisis, spiritual confusion, doctrinal vagueness and disagreement, waves of strange teachings that sound good but aren’t good captivating churches. We are definitely in a time of false religions and diminishing truth.
In this same chapter Jesus warns, (Mat. 24:24) “false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible”
Don’t be wooed by their slick appearances. Don’t be wooed by their seemingly miraculous performances. Multitudes and miracles. Large audiences and spectacular deeds. Throngs of people. Displays of power. Don’t be impressed by numbers or tricks.
1 John 2:18 Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come… 22 and who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.
It seems everybody’s looking for THE anti Christ. John tells us to look around because they’re coming and they’re going all the time. The mark of the anti Christ is the person who claims extraordinary powers, who claims that their closer to God then the rest of us, they exalt themselves and diminish Jesus. They confuse the body of Christ, they have no accountability to any one and hate being questioned about anything there saying or doing.
Does that remind you of a few of our TV evangelists?
Jesus says there’s a time of spiritual crisis… But he also says…
2. It will be a time of POLITICAL CRISIS.
6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
The world will be in upheaval. We sense this already with places like Korea, Iraq, Iran, in fact the whole Middle East! We have madman trying to get hold of nuclear bombs. We have countries threatening to annihilate Israel and sometimes it seems that we are on the brink of civil war in our own country!
Jesus says this is only the beginning of the end.
3. It will be a time of CREATION CRISIS.
There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
I don’t know where you stand on the politics of global warming but there’s no doubt that Jesus says there will be in an uptick in natural disasters before his returning. Paul puts it into words in Romans 8 when he says that even our planet is groaning to be set free from decay and death that it was subjected to when sin entered this world.
Let me stop for a moment and say that when I was a young man I sat in a lot of youth meetings where these very things were spoken of. We watched movies that convinced us that 666 was right around the corner and that the earth was convulsing with earthquakes signaling that the end was right around the corner.
In 1988 there was a man who wrote a book about the 88 reasons Jesus was going to return in 1988. He revised it to the 89 nine reasons Jesus was going to return in 1989.
When I was in college in Texas there was a man named John Todd who took a group of followers out into the dessert to await the return of Christ.
They say that the key to all things is when Israel became a nation again in the late 40’s and that Jesus has to return soon…tribulation…mark of the beast…
Now we have John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson and others claiming that they have this whole end times scenario figured out. Let me just say, they don’t!
Let’s stick with what Jesus said. He says that calamity is coming and it’s just the beginning of the labor pains before the end.
One more crisis he speaks of…
4. It will be a time of CRISIS FOR CHRISTIANS
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
Those are not good words. 165,000 Christians are killed every year for nothing more than their faith in Jesus Christ. Christians will be castigated, made fun of, in the age of tolerance they will not be tolerated, they will become open game, fair game, we will be persecuted, we will be hated we will be mocked and as time goes on it will increase get worse.
In this time of persecution fragile convictions will collapse. Wishy washy faith will fail. People we thought were contenders will be revealed as pretenders.
Persecution will reveal us. Persecution will reveal our faith. Persecution will separate the true and the false, the real and the unreal. And what ‘s scary is how Jesus says that our fellowship will be fractured and some of you will betray the very people you claim to love. In fact Jesus said that the mark of these days will be love that has grown cold. We just won’t feel like doing good anymore. We won’t say no to ourselves so we can say yes to someone else anymore.
So what does Jesus say?
Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately
13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
He says, “don’t freak out when bad things happen.” Don’t panic. These things MUST take place – that tells me there is a plan and it’s his plan. He already knows what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, how it’s coming down, and what he’s going to do about it.
In fact in verse 13-14 he says, “don’t freak out about what you’re going to see because soon you’ll witness the victory.” In fact in verse 14 he says that in the midst of all this calamity on the planet his people are still talking about the good news everywhere they go. They are not intimidated, they are not afraid, they are not confused, and they are not freaked out.
Max Lucado says, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”
I like a good political discussion as much as anybody. And I admit that I have strong opinions. But I run into people all the time who talk politics in a panicky way. They act as if government is going to save this country or destroy it. Don’t we realize that Jesus said some things “must” take place? But my hope is not in government. I place no confidence in Obama, or the rest of those pretend leaders in Washington. I urge people to vote and be politically involved but my destiny is still in the hands of Jesus Christ and no one else.
…I still think it was Jesus who said that he had every intention of meeting all of your needs according to his riches in Glory and not according to DuPont, GE, wood county board of education, bureau of public debt, social security, pension, or anyone else.
…I still think it was Jesus who said he knew all of your needs and it even the number of hairs on your head and told us not to worry about tomorrow but to just see the kingdom and everything else be given to us as needed.
…I still think it was Jesus who put you in something called the church which he said was a body of believers who would care for one another if and when calamity struck.
…I still think it was Jesus who said I will never leave you nor forsake you.
In the middle of a horrific storm Jesus appeared to the disciples walking on the water. Peter asked if he could walk on water too! Jesus told him to step outside the boat and come.
…do you really think that there was a more nervous and challenging moment in the life of Peter than that one?
In the middle of the storm we live in Jesus is issuing the command to get out of the boat and rest on his power. I personally believe that we live in a day of great opportunity…
- A day when Christians can separate from the rest and really be Christians
- A day when the message of Christ makes sense to a world in turmoil
- A day when we can stop being the church of yesterday, doing yesterdays stuff and be a church of today
- A day when we can stand out from the crowd
These are days of opportunity.
And remember that “perfect love casts out fear,” NO MATTER WHAT AND NO MATTER WHEN.
We can live fearlessly in the storms of calamity.
David and the Old Testament live through a lot of calamity. He faced giants both on and off the battlefield. His world was rocked and he lost everything that he had including his wife when King Saul became jealous of David and decided to spend the rest of his life hunting David downing killing him. How would you like it if the president of the United States use the power of his office to carry out a vendetta that he had against you?
I’m sure that you would feel helpless, hopeless, outnumbered, and that the only way this could turn out is bad. David’s world was in calamity. But in his moments of distress he found this amazing truth… He had this amazing “AHA” moment…
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid? (apprehensive, sense of weakness)
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? (have no peace, an uneasy mind, stand in awe)
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid. (apprehensive, place worth on)
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
David found a solution to fear and it was… a BIG GOD… A protecting God… A God who is bigger than the enemy… A God who knows how to fight…a God who is like a fort with walls that won’t fall…a God who knows how to make enemies look bad…a God who gives confidence.
Listen to another Psalm…
Psalm 46 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
That is calamity. Trouble, the world falling apart, surging problems, defenseless.
4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6 The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.
Those are great words. The greatness of a city that can never fall, a place where the economy is never in recession, a city with a crystal clear river always bringing fresh water into the place…the city of God! Even though we live in the world of chaos and problems we also have a Kingdom we live in! We are dual citizens.
8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.
Be still and know. In this world of problems and calamity we need not fear, we just need to be still and know that our God has all things under His amazing control.
Be still. Be fearless. Know that HE is God…not the government, not the problems, not Satan.
see also hebrews 12...the kingdom cannot be shaken